Through installations and performance pieces, a group of regional artists this weekend will temporarily transform the former Sunday school space located in the back of what is now Lyric Theatre.
The multimedia, site-specific, pop-up event, "Compartmented," is co-curated by Evelyne Leblanc-Roberge, assistant professor of art and lens-based media at the University of Rochester, and Missy Pfohl Smith, artistic director of BIODANCE. It will feature work by independent artists and faculty from the UR, Rochester Institute of Technology, Alfred University, Alfred State College, and Hobart and William Smith Colleges.
An impressive lineup of 17 artists will include Leblanc-Roberge, Roberley Bell, Meredith Davenport, Alysia Kaplan, Heather Layton, Tara Merenda Nelson, Laurie O'Brien, Joshua Thorson, Allen Topolski, as well as new video sculpture by Debora Bernagozzi and Jason Bernagozzi. Performance artist Laurel Jay Carpenter; dance company BIODANCE; and Letter to the World, a collaboration between director-choreographer D. Chase Angier and scenographer Markéta Fantová, will perform unique works.
Each element of this temporary takeover has been designed to respond to the building's unique space. The historic structure -- the former space for The First Church of Christ, Scientist -- is characterized by a panopticon, the rounded walls separated into 20 reading rooms on two levels.
The various components of "Compartmented" are inspired by existing elements of the building, as well as the artists' own imaginations, as they consider where the minds of individuals isolated in each of the spaces might have wandered. One installation will include live rabbits, another will allude to recent pushback against Planned Parenthood.
Visitors "will be invited to wander through a unique curiosity cabinet and explore the architectural structure transformed by the artists' interventions," the organizers say.
The space's bits of dizzying wallpaper and worn carpets have a limited remaining lifespan. Since Lyric Opera will begin to renovate the space into an updated cabaret hall in the coming months, Smith says she felt some urgency to give these fascinating vestiges from the former church "one last life through art, dance, and media."
Smith stumbled upon the space while searching for venues for the Rochester Fringe Festival. She later contacted Leblanc-Roberge with her idea. "I was thrilled when Sue Cotroneo and Lyric Opera were willing to let us play in this curious space," Smith says.
Admission is $5 at the door, and the event will have a bar on site. Visit thesundayschool.space for more info.